What do the 50s represent in fashion? Almost everything. Or not far. Golden Age of haute couture, they see the beginnings of ready-to-wear, the most mythical silhouettes (such Chanel suit, in 1954). They continue the path traced by a certain New Look Christian Dior in 1947, attend the birth of future gods of fashion, Yves Saint Laurent in mind. The Palais Galliera devotes an exhibition to them.
Astonishing as this decade fascinates us. His carefree side - the years of scarcity post war finally move away and the consumer society takes its ease. His imagination is all about objects with roundness and incredible colors, the Buick or the Oldsmobile to the food processor through the pickups playing Chuck Berry or the first tubes of Elvis, later celebrated in series like Happy Days or, today, Mad Men. His women, necessarily beautiful, the arched waist and chest conquering, perfect in their role docile housewife, now obsolete. And then his fashion, inexhaustible source of inspiration that comes again and again on the catwalks. While browsing a cloakroom cut out in day and evening wardrobe, cocktail dresses or for the beach, underwear and lingerie, the exhibition The 50’s, fashion in France 1947-1957, organized at the Palais Galliera, decrypts the phenomenon .
In pictures, the most mythical silhouettes of the exhibition
The story begins in 1947. That year, Christian Dior jostles the established order of a fashion still marked by the war incarnated by the image of the “woman-soldier with boxer’s stature” by the grace of a glamorous silhouette: the chest marked, the underlined waist, the hollowed belly and the hips rounded by a corset, hidden under a huge skirt and a jacket wrapping beautifully shoulders. If it is scandalous in France, Carmel Snow, famous fashion popess of the time (and editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar), cries to the genius and renamed illico the collection “New Look”. When he had just opened his house, Christian Dior alone, to relaunch and save the French haute couture, and make Paris its place as the world capital of fashion. The following years will confirm his hegemony: he alone, the man achieves 49% of the total turnover of exports of French couture. Balenciaga, Jacques Fath, Jacques Heim and Jean Dessès trace the contours of a silhouette with the ultimate elegance whose curves take the shape of an “8”, an “H”, a “ A “or a” Y “.
At the crossroads of two worlds
While celebrating femininity in its most generous and luscious form, the 50s are marked by … men. No seamstress among the couturiers who matter. With the exception of Gabrielle Chanel who orchestrates his return and, with the sling we know him, decides to break the codes established by these gentlemen of “the high. Result: if Dior marked the minds in 1947 with his New Look, Coco, she radicalizes fashion and, through his famous tailor (cut in the tweed she stole from the dressing of the Duke of Westminster in the 20s ), revive the androgynous spirit, at least more contemporary and in line with the new aspirations of the younger generation. And as for Dior, the Anglo-Saxon press will applaud his visionary spirit while the French newspapers will ignore it at first before praising its simplicity, its elegant efficiency, accessorized as a bonus of a quilted leather bag (the illustrated 2.55, whose name indicates the date of birth) and two-tone leather shoes, ordered from the boot maker Massaro.
The most beautiful outfits of the 50s
The return of Chanel, then the success of Madame Carven who, finding that her colleagues dressed only a certain type of women (the specter of the size mannequin, already …), decided to dress clients more in his image ( a small size therefore) and became the fetish seamstress of young girls, prefigure above all another upheaval both fashion and society.
And it is undoubtedly there also the interest of the 50s, decade at the crossroads of two worlds, rupture and fault modo-temporal one of its kind. On one side, the seam, locked in a yoke and enclosing the woman in a gilded cage, symbolized by a strangled and corseted waist that will soon burst with the arrival under the spotlight of a certain Yves Saint Laurent , successor of Christian Dior Avenue Montaigne in 1947. On the other, the ready-to-wear, stammering, supported by the network of neighborhood dressmakers who copy the big models and, especially, by new business experiences, to the image of the “Couturiers associés” (Carven, Fath, Paquin, Dessès and Piguet) who, as early as 1950, teamed up with garment makers to publish each season some of their models, at modest prices, in provincial stores. Through this movement, they implicitly announce a new generation, which is not yet called baby boom, more free, eager to party and emancipate themselves from the principles of their parents. The youth, the street, the jeans, the miniskirt, the audacity of Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne or Pierre Cardin make their entry, supported by icons like Brigitte Bardot or Françoise Sagan. The first turns heads in petticoats or corsair pants and floor Repetto ballerinas (created especially for her by Rose Repetto in 1956, precisely). The second revolutionizes the French novel, and appears in Chanel purified or cigarette pants and sweater androgynous. Not to mention the advent of the bikini (officially presented in 1946 at the Molitor pool), led by pin-up and acclaimed on all beaches. More simple to manufacture, and therefore to mass produce, this fashion will complete to launch the ready-to-wear and will pave the way for new fashion houses, new ways to wear and consider fashion. New ways of life, simply.